Eyoh Etim

Is the creative writer a God? You might think this question surprising. The reason is that we have been taught that God is not man and that no man can be compared to God. Indeed, God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. No man on earth is imbued with those qualities. Thus, it can be considered blasphemous for anyone to think of assigning Godhood to mere mortals who are themselves limited beings – limited in time and space. But then you have to admit that man was created in the image of God and because of that, he has retained some of God’s creative attributes. ‘Ye are gods,’ the Bible declares in Psalm 82:6 and in Psalm 8:5 the Bible states that man was made ‘a little lower than the angels’ and crowned with glory and honour.

When you take a look at the creative human spirit and its transformative power, you will begin to appreciate the truth in the Bible verses that have just been quoted. Right from the beginning, man has always been a co-creator with God. For instance, Adam was given the authority to re/name God’s creation. It should be noted that naming is an act of creation itself. Naming is a performative act which assigns ontological identity to beings in spiritual, existential and dramatic terms. Right from the time of Adam, man has been recreating the world. This means that God’s creation only happened once, but man has been recreating the earth in many ways since then – sometimes positively, sometimes negatively, depending on the nature of the creative force in him.

We are all witnesses to the epic work of re/creation that man has carried out in God’s world as a co-creator. There are aeroplanes in the atmosphere, beating time and traversing space. There are spaceships that explore the deep secrets of the universe millions of light years away. An object like the Mars rover, Curiosity, has not ceased to amaze me. Though most scientists deny the existence of God, an act that I find paradoxical and ironic, their achievements exemplify God’s creative ingenuity in them. No wonder a writer once said that the scientists were busy discovering God. This is because the successes of their experiments keep pointing them to the existence of a higher reality and a higher force, even when they would not admit these forces to be spiritual, but rather explain them away in equations and scientific terms (that is, whenever they can).

  With the creative writer, the dynamics of Godhood alters considerably. This is so because both God and the creative writer work with words. God spoke the universe and all that is in it into existence. The creative writer also uses words to create the world that we encounter in the literary work. The average reader knows that when she begins reading, she enters into another world, which is the one that is created by the creative writer. This world is also peopled by characters that the creative writer has created. These characters are seen to be real, just like those that the reader meets daily outside the literary work. I always tell my students that in the world of the creative work, the writer is God. He is the creator of that world; he designs the characters and speaks/writes them into existence. He controls the destiny of each character. He makes some of them successful and makes others to be failures. The God of the creative work also rewards and punishes the characters depending on their actions. He also decides who lives and who dies. He decides how each character will end up and he also decides how the story will end. So the next time you meet a creative writer, I suggest you bow in humble worship!

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